The question, which appeared in the head of almost every migrant staying on the territory of Poland – How does the Polish vaccination program against Covid-19 look like and is there a place for vaccinations for migrants? Journalist Klaudia Kardaś at the order of the Foundation Ukraine tried to explain the truth and myths about vaccines, how the initial vaccination schedule looks like and whether migrants can expect to appear in a list for a free vaccination. Read in the article!
When companies Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech announced in November 2020 that they had successfully created an effective COVID-19 vaccine, the whole world went mad with joy. The silver lining has appeared to overcome the coronavirus and thus to stop the epidemic. However, along with the euphoria, there was also fear, followed by various conspiracy theories. Therefore, it is worth explaining what are the “vaccines of the future”, to break the myths created about them, as well as who and when can count on the necessary dose.
Many European countries, including Poland, have almost immediately signed agreements to purchase several hundred million doses of Moderna, Pfizer, and AstraZeneca vaccines. Unfortunately, the information about the use of new, up to now unknown technology (mRNA) has given rise to an avalanche of doubts or even skepticism.
WHAT IS AN mRNA VACCINE?
Nobody has any doubt that vaccines are the most effective preventive measures. These products allow us to freeze the transmission of coronavirus, and any vaccinated person is another interrupted part of the chain of infections.
mRNA vaccines deliver mRNA ribonucleic acid to our body, the main task of which is to produce Sars-Cov-2 proteins. These proteins are designed to start the production of antibodies, which are then transmitted to the immune system. The RNA molecule, after the creation of the desired protein, is degraded, and the immune system reacts almost immediately with the production of antibodies.
The mRNA vaccine-making does not require direct work with the virus. All you need is his genetic information. We avoid contact with an infectious factor (in this case SARS-CoV-2 virus), it does not need to be inactivated or weakened virulence, and this greatly simplifies the entire production process. The use of mRNA technology also significantly reduces the time it takes to produce a vaccine, which is of great importance in situations such as a pandemic. For example, making an influenza vaccine in a laboratory – requires about 6 months, for an mRNA vaccine, one series can be produced in just a week.
What is more, work on technology-based mRNA sequences has been going on for two decades. Vaccines of this type have not been used on such a large scale in humans before, but for many years now they have been successfully used in the development of vaccines against CMV, Zika, influenza, rabies, or even malaria. mRNA technology is also used in the development of cancer vaccines as well as in therapeutic activities.
So why are so many people still afraid of mRNA vaccines? First of all, the lack of knowledge and spreading in the media, especially on the Internet, so-called fake news on this topic.
THE MOST COMMON MYTHS ABOUT COVID-19 VACCINE
As usual, in the case of things which are so rapidly appearing in our lives, with excitement, there are also fears and doubts. However, some theories about vaccines based on new technology (mRNA) are not only absurd but also harmful.
- Coronavirus vaccines cause COVID-19 disease.
The action of all vaccines, whether they are preparations of new or traditional technology, is based on supporting the body to produce appropriate antibodies. True, the fight between our cells and the virus can be accompanied by fever and slight weakness, but this is a good sign of the beginning of building a suitable immune mechanism.
- mRNA material has a big impact on our DNA.
Ribonucleic acid (RNA) does not last long in the body, it only breaks down and disappears as soon as instructions are given on how to produce the necessary proteins. Besides, the mRNA contained in the vaccine is not allowed to enter the nucleus of the cell (where DNA is located) but is only produced on its matrix. Therefore, such vaccination cannot in any way modify human DNA.
- Vaccines on COVID-19 contain harmful substances.
The substances it contains are not toxic, but some people may be allergic to them. In this case, we should consult our doctor before taking the vaccination, to determine if the vaccine is safe for us.
WHAT IS THE POLISH VACCINATION PROGRAM AGAINST COVID-19?
On December 27, 2020, the first people were vaccinated with coronavirus in Poland. The national vaccination program has officially begun since then. Since vaccination is free and voluntary to avoid possible chaos during registration, the whole process has been divided into several stages.
First, was selected those, who were most likely to be infected, i.e., healthcare workers, social assistance, pharmacists, as well as parents of premature babies.
The second group – teachers, seniors 60+, pensionaries of the care and treatment facility, as well as officers and soldiers
The last group is all the other adult citizens who expressed their willingness to accept the vaccine.
A VACCINATION PROGRAM AGAINST COVID-19 NOT FOR MIGRANTS?
What about the migrants who currently live in Poland? In January this year, the Polish Ombudsman, Adam Bodnar, in a letter addressed to the Chief Chancellery of the Prime Minister, has raised this issue. As you can read on the official website “it is clear from the program that only persons entitled to permanent or temporary stay, may be vaccinated due to their work in Poland, the nature or nature of which will authorize vaccination in stages 0 to III.
Such a provision excludes from the program foreigners residing in Poland:
- based on residence permits that are not linked to a specific type of work,
- persons residing in Poland based on visas,
- persons who are awaiting the examination of applications for a residence permit,
- beneficiaries of international protection and applicants for such protection.
The program does not guarantee those persons the possibility of benefiting from vaccination in the last phase of stage III, i.e., the possibility of benefiting from vaccination during the widespread vaccination of the adult population.”
However, we hope that the KPRM will not only refer to the content of the letter, i.e., which groups of migrants will be provided and on what terms access to vaccination will be ensured, but also actions will be launched to facilitate access to vaccine for as many people as possible.
WHY IS IT WORTH VACCINATIONS AT COVID-19?
A lot of studies have shown that vaccinated people not only protect themselves but also their parents, grandparents, children, and friends. It is worth keeping in mind, that only a solidarity-based approach will help combat the pandemic and thus accelerate the return to normality, i.e., moving away from wearing masks, meeting with family and friends, returning children to schools and students to universities, strengthening the economy, access to swimming pools, cinemas, and fitness centers or even holidays trips.
However, remember that even if we get vaccinated, the body needs time to produce protective antibodies. Therefore, it is important to wear masks and maintain social distance during this period. Only then we can speed up the end of the pandemic and return to the previous life!
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